History of Wado Ryu

The Wado Ryu (Way of Peace) school of karate, was founded by the late grand master Hironori Ohtsuka (1892-1982). He was the highest karate authority in Japan. For many years before he began karate, he trained in Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jui Jitsu. He combined some of the finer points of his knowledge of this art with the karate taught to him by Sensei Funakoshi and formed the style of Wado-Ryu.

Ohtsuka Sensei was already an accomplished master of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jui Jitsu when master Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate in Tokyo, Japan. Master Ohtsuka became interested in karate in 1922. By 1928, he was assistant instructor to Funakoshi Sensei. In 1931 master Ohtsuka founded the Wado Ryu style of karate. In 1972, Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded the title Shodai Karate-do meijin Judan (the greatest title possible) from the Imperial Japanese family. This means first generation karate master of the 10th dan; He was the first Japanese (not Okinawan) to make a style of karate in the form of Japanese budo, thus making it a true Japanese martial art. Master Ohtsuka also received the Shiju Hooshu medal for his outstanding contributions to sport from the government of Japan. He was the only man ever in the history of karate to be so honoured.

Wado Ryu karate is a fast, fluid style which emphasizes body movements in evasion. Evasion is stressed rather than meeting brute force head on. It's highly characteristic "nagashizuki" exemplifies the style's sophistication. The techniques are light and quick. The practitioner defends by using deflecting movements, and either accompanies it with a simultaneous counterattack or follows it up with an immediate counterstrike. Twisting of the hip is emphasized to generate power for the quick snappy techniques. Ohtsuka sensei taught that one's physical movement is a manifestation of one's spirit.

The entire system consists of:

Kata Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan, Pinan Godan, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, Chinto, Bassai, Jitte, Wanshu, Rohai, Niseshi, Jion
Kumite 12 Sanbon Kumite, 8 Ohyo Kumite, 10 Kihon Kumite, Jiyu Kumite
Miscellaneous 10 Tanto Dori, 5 Tachi Dori


Professor Tatsuo Suzuki was born in Yokohama in 1928 and became interested in Karate at the age of fourteen. He was taught by Professor Hironori Ohtsuka, Highest Karate authority in Japan, founder of the Wado-Ryu style of Karate.

Within six years of beginning to study Karate, Professor Suzuki was awarded his third Dan and in 1951 was awarded the then highest grade in Wado-Ryu style Karate - fifth Dan - for his outstanding courage and ability.

In addition to his accomplishments in Karate, Professor Suzuki is a second Dan in Tenshin Koryu Bo-Jitsu (stick fighting) and a first Dan in Judo. He has also studied Zen doctrine with the high priests, the late Genpo Yamamoto and Soyen Nakagawa.

In 1975 he received his eighth Dan, the highest grade ever given by the Federation of All-Japan Karate-Do organizations, Wado-Kai. In that year he also received the highest Japanese martial arts title of 'Hanshi' awarded to him by an uncle of the Emperor Higashikuni. Master Suzuki founded the first Wado Federation in England and from his base in London he spread Wado Ryu throughout Europe. Overcoming many difficulties, he brought senior students from Japan, taught them how to be instructors and sent them to various European countries. Within just a few years Wado Ryu became the most popular style in Europe.

Hinori Ohtsuka Mejin with Suzuki Hanshi


In 1991 Master Suzuki took over from Ohtsuka Sensei in protecting the essence of Wado Ryu and established the Wado International Karate-Do Federation (WIKF). He is the Chief Director for the Wado International Karate-Do Federation and instructs all over the world. He is looked upon by many as the World's Greatest Living Wado Ryu Master.

Suzuki Sensei is loyal to the man who taught him, the founder of Wado-Ryu, the late master Ohtsuka. Suzuki Sensei will not allow the style to be changed. His is the original Wado-Ryu as taught to him and as it will always be taught whilst he remains a Hanshi.

Maintained by Mick McComb
Last modified: 30th November 2001